The Zetter Townhouse feels less like a hotel and more like a home – or a private club. It’s a combination of the cosy atmosphere, the small scale of the enterprise and the personalized service. If you enjoy it you’ll be loathe to stay anywhere else ever again.
The 13-room Zetter Townhouse offers cosy digs with a ‘my great aunt lived in India’ club-house feel; it opens onto the pleasing St John’s Square in Clerkenwell, just across from the original Zetter Hotel.
In terms of style, think ‘Club house’ meets ‘country house’ in a distinctly English (read eccentric) vein. The fit-out is the product of months of trawling through action houses and estate sales for club lounges, bric-a-brac, circus off-casts and oddities, such as a stuffed kangaroo for the dining room. (Begetting the question: why doesn’t everybody have one?). As a result it feels like it’s 100 years old – but it was developed only a couple of years ago, with all the mod cons. So you’ve got the best of both worlds.
The hotel is converted from a Georgian townhouse, rooms range from the nifty to copious in scale. We’re fond of Club Room room No 9. but couples may find it a squeeze. Our favourite Deluxe room is No. 11 with a bedhead gleaned from a circus carousel and an extravagant bathtub that may have appealed to say, Sir Richard Francis Burton. In terms of upscale accom: the Suite was a bit too much like being at Grandma’s for us (to clarify our grandma was into brownish soft furnishings and not some new fangled modernist). If you want to spec up, we preferred the Apartment with its glorious bathroom dotted with maritime objects a la Captain Haddock.
The ye olde neighbourhood of Clerkenwell could be described as ‘hidden in plain view’. While even Londoners struggle to locate it, it could hardly be more central; it is walking distance to Shoreditch, Barbican, Convent Garden, Soho, and Islington. Nearby cultural institutions include the Tate Modern, the Barbican and Sadler’s Wells dance theatre. The closest tube (Farringdon) is just one station from Kings Cross St Pancras. The neighbourhood is peppered with creative businesses, the odd residential loft conversion and the remains of the old city walls. It has more than its fair share of tasty eating options nearby in Exmouth Market and the historic meat market at Smithfields.
What We Love
The Cocktail Bar – the lobby area-slash-bar-slash-supper room – is a real draw card: reasonably priced drinks and meals, lovely atmosphere. If you’re feeling lazy you won’t have trouble convincing people to join you here for a tipple off the esoteric cocktail menu – for the Goths, we recommend Les Fleurs du Mal, for the more cheerfully inclined, try a Twinkle. Do book a table on busy evenings. Guests can take a complimentary Pashley bike for a spin – note that Farringdon Rd out front is a popular artery for London’s commuter cyclists. There’s also a games room complete with ping-pong table.
Despite having one of London’s most hyped cocktail bar two floors down the rooms are incredibly quiet. It’s a miracle! So wee like an owner that learns from its mistakes (follow my drift, the original Zetter hotel across the square has a bar that keeps everyone up, hence why we don’t really recommended staying there despite it being the first cool hotel for creative types in London).
Room to Improve
A retro aesthetic should not extend to dial-up speed – the Wi-Fi needs to be faster and easier to use.
And we wish it was a bit cheaper. Mimimum £22o a night means it’s best if someone else (work) foots the bill.
We like the top floor rooms – they are smaller but cosier and quieter.
If you are new to London collect the very helpful map from the Zetter main hotel – they have a great list of recommended bars and restaurants in the area.
49-50 St John's Square, London EC1V 4JJ
Dream strange, sombre dreams of English gothic and ye olde theme parks….PJ Harvey‘s ‘Let England Shake’ from the album of the same name.